Riding in the car today, I listened to a conservative radio show with an Alliance Defense Lawyer guest bemoaning the proposed federal hate crime law. Their basic tenets were two:
1. Crimes are already crimes and do not need federal law to make certain the states prosecute crimes. It is wrong to criminalize the motive of homophobic criminals who bash and kill because they hate queers (even the Bible teaches that God hates homosexual behavior)
2. Hate crime law MAY have a chilling effect on pastors after the first pastor is called to testify in a hate crimes trial .... NOT that the pastor who preaches homophobic hatred will be in criminal trouble ... but the very fact that a pastor MAY be called to testify will make other pastors self-censor themselves.
Therefore the hate crimes law is bad.
Of course, the ADF brought up the case of the pavilion in New Jersey and the photographer in New Mexico. Let's deal with those cases quickly.
In New Mexico, a state with an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation, a woman was open for business as a photographer. A lesbian emailed her and asked for a quote on photographs for her commitment ceremony. The photographer emailed that she did not photograph homosexual events.
This was clearly the case of a public business discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation. The Human Rights Commission of NM found her discriminating and fined her $6,000+. She has appealed. How dare the government NOT allow her the Christian right to discriminate against queers? I am fairly certain she will lose on appeal. After all, Christians do not have the right to refuse to do business with Latinos or Blacks or Whites. Christian businesses do not have the right to refuse to do business with Muslims or Pagans. Businesses open to the public should NOT have the right to refuse to do business with glbt persons.
In New Jersey, a Methodist organization received PUBLIC money AND a tax exemption to fix and open a pavilion on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The PUBLIC money and the PUBLIC tax exemption were awarded the Methodist organization on the grounds that the pavilion would be open to the PUBLIC.
A gay couple wanted to hold their commitment ceremony at the pavilion. The Methodist organization refused. Since the Methodists CHOSE to renege on their agreement that the pavilion was open to the public for public use, the government withdrew its tax exemption for the pavilion. You cannot take PUBLIC money and then refuse to offer services to the PUBLIC.
Reminds of the Catholics saying they had to close their adoption services in Massachusetts or else they would be forced to place kids in gay and lesbian households. In fact they did close ... BUT what they fail to say is that the Catholics were receiving PUBLIC money for their adoption services. It was the PUBLIC money that was at issue, not the Catholic's beliefs. You cannot discriminate IF you receive PUBLIC funds.
Mormons on the other hand run a successful adoption agency in Massachusetts that absolutely refuses to place a child with a gay person. BUT there is NO PUBLIC money involved ... the Mormons pay their own way. It remains legal in Massachusetts to discriminate as a church operation IF you pay your own way.
Back to hate crime law. The conservative host and the ADF pointed to Matthew Shepard's case where the murderers are serving life sentences. No hate crime law needed, right?
What they did NOT mention was the case of Sean Kennedy of South Carolina. A clear case of homophobic murder ... the killer even left a phone message explaining that he had killed a faggot. What happened to this young white killer in SC? He served a few MONTHS in prison and then went free. 1951? 1968? 1987? NO! This was less than 24 months ago ... 2007 in Greenville South Carolina. Tell me justice would not have better served by a federal prosecution.
What he Right refuses to recognize is the chilling effect any gay bashing has on ALL gays and lesbians. This past weekend in Queens NYC, a gay man was brutally attacked as he left a convenience store in his neighborhood at 3:00 AM. They have arrested the attackers though the victim remains in an induced coma.
This crime on the other side of the country, at a time I am normally asleep has a chilling effect on my behavior and life. NOTHING terrifies more than seeing two or more white males between the ages of 14 and 30 on the street. Young white homophobes attack and kill almost every month of the year. Every time I hear of such an attack, it makes me fearful in my own community. Hate crimes have a chilling effect on the glbt community and make us all afraid. They deserve to be federal crime so they are properly prosecuted in EVERY state ... even South Carolina.
The ADF lawyer and the conservative host bemoaned the fact that the hate crime law makes them "second class citizens" because they believe homosexuality is sinful and wrong and to be put down in society. They are absolutely correct. And it is about time. I am tired of being a second or third class citizen because of who I am. It is about time the homophobes became second class citizens based on their CHOICE to hate homosexuals.
SC and similar states need the hate crimes law to put murderers of gays and lesbians in prison. I and all gay men and lesbians need the hate crime law to protect our own sense of safety.
The religious Reich is FREE to continue to preach and broadcast their hate. I have NO problem with that, none at all. I strongly support the 1st amendment. BUT just like racists are now second class citizens in this country, it is time homophobes joined them ... along with those who consider women 2nd class to men.
BTW ... RELIGIOUS ANIMUS is covered in the hate crime bill. Anyone who desecrates a church for, let's say, giving money to Proposition 8, can be prosecuted under the federal law. BUT when was the last time you heard the relious right or the conservative right bemoan that fact? Yeah, I thought so.
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